Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Muslim and Buddhist Youths in Switzerland: Individualising Religion and Striving for Recognition?

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Abstract:  Since the second half of the 20th century, immigrants and refugees from numerous countries have arrived in Switzerland. With their long-term settlement, the immigrant minorities have established cultural and religious associations to maintain their cultural and religious traditions and to teach their children the faith and religious practices from the country of origin. In contrast to the first immigrant generation, the second generation has had concurrent social influences from the Swiss ordinary school system and the cultural-religious traditions of their parents. This article asks to what extent the young generations have continued the religious traditions brought by their parents and what changes have occurred in adapting religious practices, ideas and collective forms to the new socio-cultural environment. In addition, we study whether and how the second generations have striven to move away from the often-marginalised social position of their parents and engage with social recognition in Swiss society. To provide answers to these pertinent questions, the article will draw on the examples of first and second-generation Muslims and Buddhists in Switzerland and refer to the theoretical model designed by the American scholars Fred Kniss and Paul Numrich. The article argues that not only outward changes of religiosity are observable among second-generation youths, but also that despite an intensified degree of individualisation, some of their newly founded youth associations strive for civic participation and social recognition in the public arena of Swiss civil society.

Keywords:  authority; Buddhists; civic engagement; individualisation; Muslims; second generation; social recognition; Switzerland; youth groups



© Martin Baumann, Rebekka Christine Khaliefi. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.